Preparing For ‘Storagegate’: Lower Storage iPhones Nearly Ten Times Slower Than Higher Storage iPhones

Reports claim that the entry level iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’, the 32GB models, are significantly slower than the high-end iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’, the 128GB and 256GB models. These reports began surfacing earlier this month, and while Apple’s latest flagship phone has only been out for a little over 30 days, many benchmark and real-world tests seem to prove that the slower speeds are in fact true. Is it too early to dub it “Storagegate”?

What’s Happening?

It seems the 32GB iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’ are nearly ten times slower than their higher storage capacity counterparts. The slower speed is coming from the phone’s storage, not the A10 chip. It’s unclear what kind of SSD the 32GB iPhone uses, but the write speeds on the 32GB iPhones are much slower than the higher storage variants. In a YouTube video by Unbox Therapy, Lewis runs two tests on two iPhone 7’s, one 32GB and one 256GB. The first test, the “synthetic test,” is a benchmark via an app called Performance Test, which tests a device’s CPU, memory, and storage. The second test, the “real-world test,” is timing how long it takes to transfer a 4.2GB, 1080p movie file (a Star Wars film, for those curious) from a MacBook to both iPhones. What he discovers in the first test is the 256GB iPhone has a write speed that is almost ten times faster than the 32GB iPhone’s. What’s even more shocking is the 256GB iPhone transfers the movie file a minute faster than the 32GB iPhone.

What Does This Mean For You?

Nothing. Well, actually, it means a lot if you’re a “media head.” If you’re someone who transfers files constantly from your iPhone to your computer and vice versa, you’re going to notice the slower speeds. Whether those are movies, photos, music, and the like, the 32GB iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’ are not going to be conducive for you, especially if your job depends on speed and efficiency. If you don’t necessarily care about transfer speeds and want to get an iPhone at the cheapest price available, then the 32GB iPhone 7 or 7 Plus will do just fine. However, if you care even a little bit, it may be worth spending the extra $100 or $200 to get either the 128GB or 256GB models.

A Few Previous “-gates”

Apple's Phil Schiller talks about the iPhone 4S
[Image by Paul Sakuma/AP Images]

The iPhone 4 was announced a little more than six years ago, on June 7, 2010, at the annual World Wide Developers Conference at the Moscone West in Apple’s backyard of San Francisco, California. Although the handset was lauded as “the best device of its class” by tech columnist Walt Mossberg, and initial reception was more than positive, early complaints by some users about the device’s inability to keep calls began to arise. If you touched the lower left edge of the phone—one of two locations where the antennas are placed—calls would drop in areas of lower signal reception. This became known as “Antennagate,” a much-derided name constructed by the late Steve Jobs in an attempt to satirize the real frustration of consumers and name the problem for the world to use when entering an Apple store for a possible solution. The only solution, unfortunately, was releasing another handset, thus the iPhone 4s. With the release of this device, “Antennagate” was no longer a thing, but it is still remembered as a first-world-problem that did occur.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus’ were announced a little more than two years ago, on September 9, 2014, at the World Wide Developers Conference. Once again, tech columnist Walt Mossberg called this device “the best smartphone you can buy,” and early reception for Apple’s newest handset was overwhelmingly positive. However, much like the iPhone 4 four years prior, some users were complaining about the device bending while in their pockets. This became known as “Bendgate,” something consumers and media pundits used to describe the iPhones bending issue. With the device in your front pocket, it would bend as you walk or sit, sometimes moderately, other times excessively. In some cases, the bend never caused disruption with the usage of the device, but with the more excessive bends, the device would be rendered unusable, and Apple stores would issue a new handset to those with such cases. With the release of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Apple addressed the weakness in their aluminum construction and strengthened the chassis so the bend wouldn’t happen.

In this Thursday, March 24, 2016, file photo, from left, the iPhone 6S Plus, 6S and SE lie next to each other
[Image by Julie Jacobson/AP Images]

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus’ were announced a year after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models, on September 9, 2015, at the World Wide Developers Conference. The Verge’s Nilay Patel called the iPhone 6s “the best phone on the market,” and reception for the handsets were crushingly positive (as with almost every iPhone). Similar to the iPhone 4 five years prior and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus a year prior, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus’ had an issue with their chips. Specifically, Apple seemed to use two different processors in the different devices, one developed by Samsung and the other developed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), with the Samsung one running hotter and using more battery life than the TSMC one. This became known as “Chipgate” by consumers. Apple responded to this controversy by saying there should have been no real difference between the two chips, pointing to a two or three percent variance. Unfortunately, the internal tests conducted by Apple did confirm the rapid battery life depletion and hotter handset in the Samsung variant of the chip. There haven’t been too many complaints about it, and Apple hasn’t issued any sort of world-wide replacement for users experiencing issues; however, Apple did seem to address the problem with their latest iPhones.

Even still, with this slower write speed, it seems “Storagegate” will be added to the list.

You can watch Lewis’ video above.

[Featured Image by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images]